I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Series: The Friend Zone #1
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Published by Hachette on June 11, 2019
Also by this author: The Happy Ever After Playlist, Life's Too Short
Format: ARC, eARC (384 pages) • Source: Publisher
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Fall in love with this hilarious and heartwarming romantic comedy that USA Today bestselling author LJ Shen calls "an absolute treat." SheReads' "Most Anticipated Romance Books of 2019
Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.
Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen -- especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.
The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.
"Harnessing sass, heartfelt struggle, and unapologetic sexuality, Jimenez's debut is as hysterical as it is tear-jerking.... Jimenez manages to fulfill all expectations for a romantic comedy while refusing to sacrifice nuance. Biting wit and laugh-out-loud moments take priority, but the novel remains subtle in its sentimentality and sneaks up on the reader with unanticipated depth." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
I had this book for a very long time and AS USUAL my terrible reading habits got in the way. I ended up starting this the week it published and wanted to turn my review around quickly. (I even knew that I’d need a full-length review for this one… something that hasn’t been seen on my blog in a while!) I love Forever Romance so much – please check into them if you
live under a rock haven’t read my blog in a while. I had enough time to see early readers’ reviews of this one and let’s be real – the hype was huuuuge. I saw from others that it would make me laugh AND cry, so that’s my favorite kind of book.
It didn’t take me that long to warm up to these characters. Josh, who just moved to California to work at the firehouse with his best friend, literally ran into Kristen on his way there. Turns out, they’re both in the wedding of Sloan and Brandon, maid of honor and best man, respectively. They didn’t get off to the best start but when Kristen needs help with her business, Josh is the only logical person to help her out. They become quick friends and Josh spends a lot of time at her house, while Kristen gears up for her deployed boyfriend to come home. Naturally they catch some feelings.
I like that this was a slow-burn, where Kristen was already questioning her feelings for her boyfriend, and Josh attempted to keep his attraction at bay. They literally keep things in the friend zone for as long as they can, but as a reader… you can tell their chemistry is off the charts. They constantly banter and jab at each other, which made for such a fun reading experience. Kristen has a wicked (dirty) sense of humor – my kind of girl. I loved Sloan and Brandon too – it was so nice to fall for the side characters. I wish that this was a companion series and they were the first book! Even side characters like Shawn, who was an “idiot relationship savant” had both funny and punchable moments. Everyone surrounding the lead couple was fleshed out and fun to read.
There were some times where it felt like Kristen was written to be TOO much of the classic “cool girl” that “all guys are looking for.” This was further perpetuated by Josh saying it so much, especially when he noted that usually “all hot girls are crazy” and she was one of the ~rare few~ that was both hot and cool (LOL). He repeatedly said that she was a unicorn and I guess just never gave women enough credit? It’s one of my personal pet peeves, like when girls are like “I only hang out with guys – girls are the worst” — that kind of vibe. I never enjoy that kind of dialogue or thinking, even though I’m sure most men think that way. It’s one thing to say she’s perfect or perfect for HIM, but I didn’t like that he acted like she was literally the only cool girl in the entire world? I can’t expect Josh to be perfect, but it was put over quite a bit that he has SIX sisters and therefore knows a lot about how to “handle” woman (for lack of a better word). Some of his earlier moments felt too macho for me, like when he went to get his gun to protect her or enjoyed hunting. I’m going to emphasize here that’s just not MY personal taste, but hey – this isn’t my boyfriend.
There were also COUNTLESS times that she realized that Josh had feelings for her, or that she loved him back. Like… she had these moments of clarity and acted like it was the first time she realized? Despite having realized in the previous chapter? It just got so repetitive throughout a good portion of the book and made me wish the book was shorter. I can understand why Kristen needed or wanted to keep her situation to herself but it definitely was one of those situations where you keep yelling JUST TELL HIM!!! COMMUNICATE! I felt so terrible for her that she was dealt this shitty card and cannot begin to relate to it, so I tried to reserve judgement. I don’t know anything about having children or if I want them, but I enjoy knowing that I probably have the ability to. I really felt for her. It was also refreshing to read a book that talked a lot about periods and other girly things that are traditionally a bit more taboo in books. It might get mentioned occasionally, but this book legitimately centered around menstruation, uteruses, and pregnancy. It was unique to read about for sure.
While Josh won’t make it into my personal book boyfriend list, that does not mean he wasn’t PERFECT for Kristen. I felt the chemistry with every passing page and they made me smile so much with their banter. I didn’t cry like I expected to (most reviewers said they cried multiple times!) but I did tear up when something big happened toward the end of the book. (I feel weird about this event in general though. I don’t want to get into it because of spoilers but it genuinely made me upset, like it didn’t need to be included in the story.) I also teared up at a happier moment at the end, which was better 😉 The ending was an emotional DOOZIE and it almost made me increase my rating a bit.
Overall, I’m a lot more mixed on this book than literally anyone else I’ve seen. I’m not sure what came over me while I was reading but it just didn’t hit me as much as it hit other readers. As far as romance goes, this book had a solid one. Great side characters and a unique premise. I recommend it! (I’m also INCREDIBLY excited to read her next book in 2020!)